“How long can you drive with battery light on?” is a question that you might be wondering when you see the battery light illuminate on the dashboard. While you might be worried about the light turned on suddenly, it’s a way to show that there is something wrong.
There are different reasons why the battery light might come on, and there might be a problem with your alternator too. In this guide, we take a closer look at how long you can drive with the battery indicator on.
JUMP TO TOPIC
- 1 How Long Can You Drive Your Car With the Battery Light On?
- 2 What Does It Mean When the Battery Light Turns On?
- 3 Can You Still Drive With the Battery Light On?
- 4 Is It Safe to Drive With the Battery Light On?
- 5 What Can Cause the Battery Light to Come On?
- 6 What Should You Do if the Battery Light Comes On?
- 7 What Happens if the Battery Stops Working?
- 8 Can the Battery Stop Working While Driving?
- 9 Conclusion
How Long Can You Drive Your Car With the Battery Light On?
You can drive your car for 30 to 60 minutes with the battery light on before the engine stalls and the car stops completely. If the light turns on and you still want to drive, you won’t be able to go too far.
The engine would still be able to run, but the battery would not be charged if the alternator is faulty, causing the car to stall. If you notice the battery indicator is on while driving, you should take your car to the mechanic to diagnose the problem.
What Does It Mean When the Battery Light Turns On?
When the battery light turns on, it means that there is a problem with the battery or alternator. There might still be enough juice for you to get to the nearest mechanic, but you have a maximum of 60 minutes with the light on.
Whenever you start your car, you might notice that the battery indicator comes on for about two seconds, but it goes off quickly. There is nothing to worry about if you notice this. But, if the light stays on while the car is still running, this indicates a minor problem like corrosion with the battery or a major problem like a failing alternator.
If the battery indicator is on and you manage to turn the car on, you should turn off every electronic feature in your car, like the air conditioning, radio, heated seats, and headlights, to save battery power.
If you turn the engine off, it might not come back on, so ensure you go straight to the mechanic or car shop. The battery indicator should not be ignored, as it would cause the electrical systems of your car to fail before the entire car stops.
Can You Still Drive With the Battery Light On?
No, you cannot still drive with the battery light on, and can expect your car to stop running in 30 to 60 minutes. If you’re on the road and the light comes on, you should use whatever charge remaining to park somewhere safe or go to an auto repair shop.
It is not recommended to drive with the car battery warning light on because if it suddenly stops, you can get into an accident. Also, the voltage regulator might discharge an unusual voltage volume when the light comes on. Driving might cause damage to your alternator and battery.
If you want to continue driving despite the car battery light coming on, you can reduce the burden on the faulty alternator or battery by shutting down electronic devices like phone chargers, music players, power windows function, heated seats, radios, headlights, air conditioning and more. It would preserve power while on the road.
If the alternator shuts down while driving, there is no electricity being passed through the car. So, the engine, buzzing horn, signal light, and steering support would stop. That’s why you should stop the car immediately and check the charging system or contact a mechanic.
Is It Safe to Drive With the Battery Light On?
No, it is not safe to drive with the battery light on. If you notice the car battery light indicator lighting up your dashboard, you should park your car or drive to the nearest mechanic shop. Your car won’t function properly with the light on, and can be dangerous.
In general, it is unsafe to drive with any check engine light popping up on the dashboard, but most drivers ignore this. The thing is, along with the light being on, your car won’t perform as usual, so the ride would be rough and uncomfortable.
A faulty alternator or battery cable can also cause your car to suddenly stop after stalling for a few minutes, and if this happens in the middle of the road, you might cause an accident. Once you see the light, it’s best to check your battery connections, as it might be a minor problem.
If it’s not, you should consider leaving it to the professionals to fix it to avoid further damage.
What Can Cause the Battery Light to Come On?
A battery light coming on can be caused by a malfunctioning belt, faulty alternator, damaged battery, corroded battery terminals and too many electronic accessories being used. It’s best to inspect the battery and alternator to find the problem or visit a mechanic.
Using Too Many Accessories
There is a very low chance of this happening, but you should hope this is the problem since it comes with a simple fix. We use different electronics when driving our cars, especially using it to charge our smartphones. If you have an old car or an old battery, using too many accessories would drain power from the battery.
The battery powers electronic features like the air conditioner, windshield wipers, radio, defroster, and power windows. If there is a weak connection between your battery and the alternator, too many accessories can turn the battery light on.
Malfunctioning Alternator Belt
The most common reason why the battery indicator turns on is the alternator belt. The serpentine belt drives the alternator, and so this is what most mechanics check first. The belt curls between multiple wheels under the hood, and it powers the alternator, which in turn charges the battery.
The belt can get worn out and break, or it might have been improperly made or installed into your car. Any of those things would lead to issues with your battery. Luckily, your mechanic can simply replace the broken serpentine belt.
The alternator is not only an expensive part, but it is also hard to access as it is buried under other metal parts. It can cost up to $200 to purchase one, and the labor costs for installing it would also be high. The alternator is more durable than the battery or belt, so it’s often the last thing that mechanics check.
If you suspect a problem with your alternator, you should contact a mechanic to check it for you. Also, if you have a bad alternator and you turn the car off, it would most likely not turn on again, so it’s best to pull over safely and contact a mechanic.
Most people would expect that the battery indicator came on because of a failing battery, but this isn’t always the case. The battery is filled with acid, which creates electricity that drives the car, and when it stops working, it simply weighs your car down. It might also be a loose battery.
If you have a bad battery, you should avoid driving your car. Aside from the fact that it can stop running at any time, some electronic features might not work. For instance, the headlights might not come on when you’re driving at night with a faulty battery.
Corroded Battery Terminals
A very easy problem to fix is the corroded terminals, and this might lead to the battery light turning on. Before you visit a mechanic, you should inspect the terminals on your car battery for corrosion. If you notice white or green buildup, that means you have corroded terminals.
You can clean the corrosion with tools from your toolbox and turn your car on again. If it still doesn’t work, you can consider going to a mechanic to inspect the battery and alternator.
What Should You Do if the Battery Light Comes On?
If the battery light comes on, you should pull over, open the hood, inspect the terminals and then the fuse box for the problem. If you’re unsure, it’s best to contact a mechanic after you pull over or a tow truck to get your car off the road.
The first step is to pull over and ensure you have enough space to open the hood. You should only consider this if you have a toolbox in your trunk. Or else, there isn’t much you can do once you open the hood. Once you’re safe, open the hood or trunk, depending on where your battery and engine are. If it’s night, prop a light source somewhere to get a good look at the engine.
Next, you should inspect the terminals for a white or greenish buildup around them. This is due to corrosion, which can make your battery less conductive. You can clean it with a wire brush, or if you don’t have any tools, any clean cloth will work. Then, check if the light is still on.
If it is still on, you should check the fuse box. This might be under the car’s hood, steering wheel or dashboard console. Inspect it for tripped or blown fuses, reset them, and try to restart your car. If this doesn’t work, you should consider a mechanic.
What Happens if the Battery Stops Working?
If the battery stops working, the engine will not be able to start. When car batteries run out of power, they can be recharged through a jump-start. Connect jumper cables to another car or use a battery charger to turn it on again.
The battery runs out of power when the engine isn’t running, so you need to recharge it again to get the engine going. If you’ve not driven your car for a while, you get a dead battery.
Can the Battery Stop Working While Driving?
Yes, the battery can stop working while driving. If the alternator is not working, the battery will run out of power at any time, even if you are speeding on the highway. The car would first stall and then eventually stop running.
With our guide, you have the answer to How long can you drive with battery light on. Here’s a rundown of what we covered in our guide:
- You can drive for 30 to 60 minutes with the battery indicator on before your car stalls and eventually stops running.
- When the battery light turns on, it means there is a problem with the battery, terminals, alternator or belt.
- If your battery light turns on, you should check the terminals and fuse box first, but contact a mechanic if you don’t know what to do.
If you notice something wrong with your battery through the indicator and you’re not good with tools, the best thing is to contact a mechanic for help.
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